Yesterday it was formally announced that Scully will be back for the Dodgers 2010 season. As it has been in recent years, the legend will do all the Dodger home games as well as road games against the National League West (and American League West for interleague games). That’s enough; to hear Scully wish us a pleasant evening wherever we may be is a joy that never gets old.
And Dodger fans may need Scully and his stories to get through a rougher next season.
A couple hours after the Scully announcement came word that the Dodgers would not be offering arbitration to any of the seven free agents on the team that could seek it. That was a particularly disturbing move in the case of the team’s two Class A free agents, pitcher Randy Wolf and second baseman Orlando Hudson.
Almost certainly both players would have rejected their arbitration offers from the Dodgers, preferring to test the waters of free agency. Wolf had a good season and will be in demand, Hudson was angry about his late-season benching and wanted out.
And when they rejected the offer, the team that signed them would have had to give the Dodgers two draft picks. Not something that pays off next year, but draft picks are where the Dodgers got guys like Matt Kemp and Russell Martin and the rest of their young core. It’s how you build a farm system and the team for the future.
And the Dodgers threw that out the window. Why? Money, of course. The risk for the Dodgers is that Wolf or Hudson would have won their arbitration case and it would have cost the Dodgers more than they wanted to pay. And with the team owners in the middle of a nasty divorce and most of their money being on paper and not in cash, paying those salaries would have been hard. Plus, even if Wolf and Hudson rejected arbitration, the Dodgers would have had to fork over signing bonuses for those draft picks (likely in the $4 million range). So rather than pay up, the Dodgers just let them walk for nothing.
It means that next year’s Dodgers will look a lot like this year’s Dodgers — a young core and some inexpensive veterans around them. And Manny Ramirez. Maybe that can work — if pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley take a step forward, if other young pitchers make a big leap forward to fill out the end of the rotation, if everyone stays healthy. The Dodgers will not be a bad team, but they are not making the moves of a team ready to take the next step forward. Meanwhile the Colorado Rockies are right on their heels.
But at least we’ll have Vin Scully to talk us through it.